Welcome, friends, to another T-Sides movie review! I meant to follow my last one up with a review of Factotum, but life happens and one gets distracted. (If you like Bukowski, you’ll probably like it, if you don’t, you probably won’t. How’s that?) Now there are newer films in our theaters, and so shall I review one.
The subject on tonight’s cutting block, so to speak, is Michel Gondry‘s long and anxiously-awaited Science of Sleep, starring indie and foreign flick heartthrob Gael Garcia Bernal and actress/chanteuse Charlotte Gainsbourg, daughter of Serge. (Athough, I’d like to mention that, if we’re translating directly from French here, the translation should be Science of Dreams since the French title is La Science des Reves, and Reve means “dream” en Francais.)
The plot is pretty straight-forward: Stephane’s (Bernal) father dies, and he goes to France to live with his mother, who has set up a calendar illustrating job for him. One day, while walking out of his mother’s apartment, he starts helping some moving men who are moving a piano into the apartment across the hall, but injures his hand in the process. The women in the apartment, Zoe and Stephanie (Gainsbourg), take him in to help heal his hand. He falls for Stephanie and finds out that she has a similar quirky, dreamy sense of things that he does. However, Stephane has trouble separating dreams from reality, which quickly interferes with his work and his relationships.
Apparently, this is the first major film that Gondry has written and directed alone (for others, he usually collaborated with script writer Charlie Kaufman), and it shows. The animation is as much a star of the film as the actors, giving the film the surreal quality that it requires.
However, I dare say that he went overboard a bit. Somewhere along the middle, my mind tended to wander during the animated parts. It quickly regained my attention, but as the movie ended, I couldn’t help but feel that there were too many animated sequences and not enough substance. Most of the conflict in the movie is created out of confusion and there are times when the viewer can’t help but feel confused, as well. Again, Gondry does a good job creating the right aesthetic — he just goes a bit too far with it. Just because the characters are confused doesn’t mean the audience needs to be, as well. We don’t get a strong enough sense of their relationship, because most of what we see is dreams. When Stephane and Stephanie are fighting, it’s hard to tell what they’re fighting for, because it seems like they’ve spent a little amount of actual time together.
Still, Bernal and Gainsbourg play their parts perfectly. I was surpised at just how well Bernal could play the shy, weak, whiny boy character, because the last film I saw him in was The King, in which he was an incredibly manipulative, manly character (in one of the most disturbing films I’ve ever seen). I’ve seen him play such a vast array of characters at this point, you’d think I’d stop being surprised at how good he is. Gainsbourg does a masterly job of handling Stephanie, who we don’t learn nearly as much about, as the film is always from daydreamer Stephane’s point of view.
Overall, Science of Sleep is much like a dream itself — it makes you sad, happy, confused, and sends you through a beautiful, entrancing, creative world. There’s just not much more to it than that.
A few notes:
Death Cab For Cutie: “Your Heart Is An Empty Room” (download)
Death Cab For Cutie: “Dream Scream (Daniel Johnston Cover)” (download)
Originally, they used “Your Heart Is An Empty Room,” for the trailer, which I admit, is a more trailer-friendly song, but if it were up to me, I would’ve used their Daniel Johnston cover, “Dream Scream.” For a long time I really hoped that Death Cab would move in a weird, experimental direction, because this song is just so good. Hell, who am I kidding? I still wish that they would move in that direction.
Anyone who was a fan of Mr. Daniel Vosovic from last season’s Project Runway will surely be jealous of me and my movie companions, because mere seconds after we arrived to wait in line, none other but the first runner up got behind us. Yes, I was standing just a few feet away from Michael Kors’ last season lover. He looked exactly like he did on television. He was wearing a brown sweater and jeans and dashed inside after standing in line for a few minutes. I can’t confirm for sure that he was seeing the same film as us, but, realistically, he probably was. I would’ve tried to talk to him or find him in the theater, but I rooted for team Santino last season, so…
Yours truly was linked (and slightly mocked) by the big bad music blog patrol, Idolator — a recent music-focused start-up from the Gawker enterprise. They had this to say about my Roger Waters write-up:
“The longest rebuttal to a weeks-old New York Times concert review you’ll ever read.”
WTF, because in their own post on the same day, Idolator posts something that they admit is months old. Talk about pot vs. kettle!
Still, they posted a link to it despite its lateness, so I guess there must’ve been something in it they liked? Or maybe not. Either way, thanks for the traffic, dudes.